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Citrus suitable for the Mornington Peninsula and surrounding areas

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When contemplating what citrus trees to cultivate on the Mornington Peninsula its important to keep in mind what varieties are suitable for gardens in this area.
Its important to chose a grafted tree as the rootstock encourages strong growth, good fruit production and helps prevent root rot problems.
Select a sunny position with free draining soil enriched with organic matter.
You can also grow citrus in pots.  The dwarf varieties grow to 1.5m-2m in the ground and slightly less in pots. So if  garden is small you can still enjoy all the benefits of cultivating your own fruit
As gardens on the Mornington Peninsula are in a cool zone think about the following varieties  they should thrive and require less garden maintenance than other types
  • Nagami Cumquat
  • Meyer and Lisbon lemons
  • Wheeny Grapefruit
  • Satsuma mandarins
  • Valencia oranged
Citrus use a lot of energy producing their fruit so remember when weeding or just conducting your regular garden maintenance to feed with a liquid plant food suitable for citrus.

My favourite winter flowering plant

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When gardening in and around Mt Eliza and the Mornington Peninsula people often ask me for plant recommendations especially in semi shaded aspects and under the dappled light of taller trees.
My immediate response are Hellebores.  I have seen them growing and thriving in this area.  They are easy to fall in love with when you see the flowers with their dainty heads nodding in the breeze in a range of pretty colours.  If left to grow they can spread and cover the ground.  They are very tough and need little attention apart from cutting back the foliage in March.  Hellebores on the Peninsula will flower from winter  to spring, the blooms lasting for months.  The flowers are shaped like a cup with both single and double petalled varieties.  Colours range from metallic black, dusty pink, lime green, whit and bolder shades of maroon.
Hellebores generally suit temperate to cold climates like we experience here on the Mornington Peninsula.  The best growing conditions are in soil that has plenty of compost and good drainage.  Watering may be required over a dry summer.  Any burnt leaves can be cut off in autumn to allow new leaves to flourish and the flowers are easier to see.  Fertilise with an organic feed and spread mulch around them to keep plants cool over summer. One of the benefits of growing them is snails and slugs are not in the slightest bit interested.
So go ahead and brighten your winter months with these beautiful tough perennials.
The best place to purchase these stunning plants is The Post Office Farm Nursery.  Have a look at their online store.
Happy Helleboring!

Vegetables to plant now Mornington Peninsula Area

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Before planting your winter vegetables make sure you have prepared the soil, providing adequate organic matter to produce optimum yields.
All weeds should be removed
Chose from a variety of popular vegetables (Dirt Girls recommendations)
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Lettuce
  • Mitzuna
  • Pac Choy, Bok Choy
  • Peas/Snow Peas
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Shallots
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach
Not having enough space in your garden is no longer an excuse for not growing your own produce as the Mornington peninsula Shire has approved a proposal for residents to grow produce on their nature strips (still getting used to calling it a nature strip.  In Perth where I trained as a professional gardener we called it the ‘verge’ but as I am now doing garden maintenance on the peninsula I’ve got to get with the locals) anyway it’s a great idea.  I think you’re meant to share with your neighbours. Approvals will have to be granted by the council.
Once planted vegetables should be fertilised fortnightly with a product like Seasol or any fishmeal which will keep the new leaf production sweet and tasty.
You don’t want the neighbours complaining about the quality of your produce!

Care of Kangaroo Paws on the Mornington Peninsula

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With their distinctive flowers and diversity of colour kangaroo paws are among the most rewarding Australian plants.  They grow from an underground rhizome and produce beautiful flowers on long stems mainly during spring and summer. Growing naturally only in the south west of Western Australia, similar conditions to that of the Mornington Peninsula, they’re now widely available to all gardeners .
If you are looking for tall but very tough low maintenance ‘flavidus hybrids’ perform year after year.  Smaller varieties are ‘Bush Inferno” and ‘Bush Gold’ These varieties are suitable for pots and borders but require more attention.
To get the most out of them they need to be growing in full sun with well drained soil. Pruning is the key to getting the most out of your plants You’ll be surprised to know that a heavy Prune to ground level is essential  because all of the growth points are  underground. Cutting back also helps control diseases on the leaves.  The ink spot attacks the leaves can be caused by fungal infections but also snails and frost damage. Cutting the leaves back you get beautiful lush new growth.
This time of the year after you have cut them back a good handful of slow release fertilizer  just sprinkled around the base is ideal.  Reapply in spring when they’re in the middle of their growth flush. When the clumps get really big you can divide the plant .  Just sink the spade into the clumps and divide into pieces.  This can be done Summer into autumn and winter.
They are a fabulous bird-attracting plant and an icon of the native garden.

Living Shade on the Mornington Peninsula

I have decided to grow an ornamental grapevine under my patio roof which is polycarbonate. Its great in winter as it lets light in and protects from rain, however in summer it is very hot hence the decision to grow the ornamental grape which performs particularly well in and around the Mornington Peninsula. They are readily available and are inexpensive.  I purchased mine from Coolart Nursury on Coolart Road in Somerville.
The best aspect of my decision is that in winter there will be plenty of light when I require it as the vine is deciduous and in summer I will have a beautiful lush green canopy.   There are not many products that come with a guarantee of new for old every year.  Shade from living plants is so much more interesting to look at than man made  shade cloth which will eventually disintegrate in the sun leaving bits of plastic dust littering the environment.
Instead of fixed and solid shade materials shade through leaves is always intriguing as there is always something changing with the sun the light or the breeze.
You have complete control over the size and shape of your canopy as they are pruned in winter.  The shoots coming off the main branches are shortened to about 3-5 buds.  Typically the new growth will be from these stumpy pieces each year.  As my vines are new I have the opportunity to develop the growing points.  Thinning them to about 40cm-60cm apart usually will give good summer shade
A couple of points to keep in mind when you have decided to create this beautiful shade are firstly  1 plant will spread up to 20 metres and don’t twine the stems around the posts of the structure. Lay the main stems along the top.  Keeping the framework of the plant to the top and outside allows the climber to be moved aside for painting or maintenance.
One of the most stunning features of these vines is produced when spring turns to summer you have the choice to let the stems dangle down the edge forming a curtain effect if you need further sunprotection or if not necessary these can be cut shorter.  The curtain effect really emphasises the graceful effect of deciduous climbers

Growing Nellie Kelly Blueberries on the Mornington peninsula

blueberry-plantThe Nellie Kelly Blueberry is a delightful, evergreen bush that grows to 1 metre, producing pink flowers in winter and delicious fruit in late spring and summer.  The bush is frost tolerant and needs to be planted in areas that have an overnight temperature of 5C degrees and below in winter making it ideal for our local conditions in and around the Mornington Peninsula.  The low temperature helps promote flowers.
Nellie Kelly Blueberries are suitable for either garden beds or large pots where they can get part sun.  They last for about 10 to 15 years and can produce up to 4kg of fruit  per season.  For best results plant in a slightly acidic soil.  A premium azalea potting mix is ideal.  Keep the bush moist and feed with a slow release acidifying fertiliser during winter and late summer.
Prune the bush vigorously after fruiting, removing up to a third of the bush. Blueberries are delicious eaten fresh, on  breakfast cereal, in muffins and cakes and in salads
This variety is readily available at any nursery on the peninsula. As they only grow to 1 metre they make a great project for children as they are easy to reach and don’t have any thorns as do a lot of other berry varieties.

AGAPANTHUS MORNINGTON PENINSULA STYLE

index2One of the most maligned plants growing in and around the Mornington Peninsula is  humble agapanthus. Far from looking humble they are extraordinarily elegant, ranging in colour from   silver white (Silver Lining) to almost black (Midnight Cascade)
Midnight Cascade produces an almost black weeping flower which is the darkest in its class.  It will grow to a height of approx. 80cm Silver Lining produces unusually tubular nodding flower heads and grows to a height of 1 metre.
There is an agapanthus for every garden as the colour and size are extensive.  They are extremely hardy and are frost and drought proof, conditions experienced in The Mornington Peninsula area
The display produced is amazing and its not unusual around Xmas time to find beautiful driveways in Mt Eliza lined with these magnificent plants.  Their display lasts for weeks adding to their attractiveness.
The only downside is the need to dead head the spent flowers as the seeds produced can become troublesome, the reason some consider them weeds however the many benefits far outweigh this negative aspect.
Agapanthus are readily available at the many nurseries in and around the Mornington Peninsula, so keep an eye out for them.
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Gardening in and around Mt Eliza and the Mornington Peninsula in October

If you want a  garden full of colour throughout summer, now is the time to get your hands dirty.
A keen gardener is always thinking ahead to future seasons.  If you want your garden to be full of colour throughout the coming summer months, October is he  to perfect time to plant your summer flowering varieties.  This ensures they have time to establish and produce spectacular blooms.
Some recommendations for this area around Mt Eliza and Mornington are salvias, gerberas, gardenias, lavender and dahlias.  These varieties are suited to a more old fashioned cottage style garden while natives such as bottlebrush,  banksias, grevillias, wattles and kangaroo paws will attract native birdlife.  check out your local nursery of which there is a plentiful supply from Frankston to Sorrento.
Mulching is an important part of caring for your garden.  Add mulch to prevent roots drying out and to help them retain water.
Organic mulch will break down over time and enrich your soil.  The finer the blend the more easily it breaks down.
Avoid red gum and colour dyed pine chips as they don’t have nutritional value, and beware of councils free mulch as it may contain weed seeds.
Although you should have already pruned your deciduous plants, wisteria are the exception.
These climbers are usually left unpruned until after their magnificent flowers have appeared in spring.  If you have new plants and they don’t flower don’t despair.  It may take several seasons for blooms to appear.
Once the flowers have finished, prune back to the shape or size you want to maintain throughout the growing season.
Your roses should have already produced their first bloom.  Along with looking brilliant, your roses will smell amazing and provide a great attraction when displayed in a vase inside your home.
By picking your first bloom now, it will promote more blooms over the coming season

Taking care of your Lilly Pilly’s in winter on the Mornington Peninsula

Now that we are heading into winter on the Mornington Pensinula, I thought it would be worth an update on how to take care of your Lilly Pilly’s to minimise Psyllids.

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Psyllids are small sap sucking insects about 2-4mm long.  After mating the female inserts yellow oval shaped  eggs into the edge of new leaves.

Small nymphs hatch from the eggs and move to the newer leaves where they feed and develop pimple  gall which is the plants response to the psyllids feeding.

Plants that are stressed and in poor condition are more susceptible to attack.  It’s actually worth noting, despite it being rather damp on the Mornington Peninsula this time of year, the base of the Lilly Pilly’s can still be very dry, which can cause stress.

Particularly in suburbs like Mount Eliza, where they have heavy clay based soils, often water will run off quicker than can be absorbed in areas like Frankston South, Mount Martha, Patterson Lakes, and Somerville.

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Apart from the drawbacks Lilly Pillies or Syzygiumz are beautiful plants and need not be affected so long as they remain healthy.

Some areas are more prone to attack so you may need to select your species a little more carefully.

How do we deal with these pests?

When you see the damage it may be too late and it cant be reversed.  If its a mild attack its not going to affect the health of the plant, just make it look a little ugly. travel through the plant and remain travel

Spray with white oil and use a systemic insecticide spray like Confidor.  this will kill the nymphs.

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Systemic sprays are chemicals that will travel through the plant and remain in the plant tissue for a period of time.  Confidor can also be administered by small tablets dug into the ground about 10 cm from the base of the tree and dug 5cm deep.  Use 1 tab for every metre of height. If it is severe I recommend cutting out the affected branches and treating as described.

They prefer milder conditions so don’t usually appear in the heat of summer and cold winters.

Roses Pruning Transplant​ing

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Now is the time to transplant any rose that you may have put in the wrong position.  Make sure you prune it then place it in a position that receives at least 8 hours of sun daily.  Water in well with a mixture of water and seasol.

Any rose that has been planted in a pot for more than 3 years needs to be repotted with new fertile soil.  Once again prune then remove the roots by a quarter and replant again watering in well.

It is rose pruning month in July.  If you are unable to get a qualified rose pruner to do the job for you there are a few simple steps to remember.  Firstly make sure your secateurs have been dipped in a solution of 10% bleach to water.  This stops cross contamination.

The rose should look like a vase when complete allowing as much sun into the centre.  Cut all growth nodules to face towards the outside of the bush and always cut on an angle.

When complete rake up all the leaves on the ground and spray with lime sulpher to prevent the spread of fungal diseases.  Do not use any of the cutting for compost.

When the new growth appears in spring spray with rose shield to protect from black spot and other infections.

A scattering of slow release rose food at this point is beneficial.

Happy pruning….